Town Manager’s Column: All About Town (February)

ALL ABOUT TOWNIMG_3585

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

March Town Meeting is within reach. Last night, Monday February 16th, I attended the first of two public forums with the candidates for Select Board. A second forum is planned for February 26th at 6:30 pm at the Bennington Fire facility, 3rd floor public room. Last night’s forum was an opportunity to hear from the candidates answering a number of questions posed by the two moderators, John Likakis and Jackie Prue. The questions were very general in nature. It was unclear to me, although I arrived late, who drafted the questions. One question, in particular, confused me. The question asked what the candidates thought about the fact that youth programs at the Rec Center and senior programs at the Senior Center had been cut over the last few years. I know that the school system was unfortunately denied the renewal of the Mosaic grant, a youth program. I don’t know of any programs cut by the Town. There may, in fact, be some programs that have been discontinued for lack of attendance or lack of interest, but those are decisions made by the respective directors in their job. It was a question not based on fact. Many of the questions seemed to take a negative bent. I was pleased when the candidates began to turn their answers to a positive note. I noticed that in campaigns some candidates focus on the things perceived wrong or not working; that change is a must; that, somehow, no one currently working on the solutions we seek is doing enough. It makes for negative discourse, puts a negative spin on the campaign, and perpetrates the negative image of Bennington. Remember, much of the preliminary work in economic development is confidential at the request of potential developers.

I am sure that we all see positive signs; that some solutions are in hand or within reach. This long-lived recession has been most difficult to overcome. I assure you that current employees are working very hard to make Bennington the best place it can be. We look forward to working with the next Select Board to continue those efforts.

If you have access to cable, please tune in to the February 23rd Select Board meeting. You can attend as well. The combined school boards, BSD, CDC, and MAU, and the Town have prepared a presentation of all budgets impacting the Bennington taxpayer. It’s brief and to the point. And of course, I ask that you support the budgets when you vote.

The Benmont Avenue bridge project is now beginning. You will see signs being put in place to direct traffic through and around the site. Remember, one way traffic will be maintained. It will be that traffic coming from the south heading north. Southbound traffic will be detoured to Route 7 and County Street or other streets with connections back to Route 9, Benmont Avenue, and points west. Construction will not start in earnest until mid-March, weather permitting.

Keep your eyes open for news of the first “EXPOsion Bennington 2015”. This event will highlight the latest news in the arts and culture industry that thrives here in Bennington. Exhibitors will unveil the area’s visual arts attractions, performances, craft events, museum exhibits, and happenings all planned for 2015. Conceived by the Bennington Cultural Planning Committee, this first effort will be held at the Mt. Anthony Country Club on April 15, 2015, from 11 am to 3 pm.

This long, very cold Winter has been very trying to those who must work out in it. I want to thank all who work tirelessly to maintain the streets and sidewalks. I think we’re all ready for a break.

Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.

Stuart Hurd is Bennington’s Town Manager. He writes a monthly column on town issues.